What is the difference between Chassidism and Orthodox Judaism?
by Mrs. Sarah Levi
To someone who is not a Chassidic or Orthodox Jew, it may be impossible to distinguish between the two. (All those black clothes!) However, there is a vast rainbow of different customs followed within the two groups. Furthermore, there are significant differences in their philosophies.
The essential difference between Chassidism and other streams of Orthodox Judaism is that while the other streams see Avodah (service of G-d) as part of Torah study, Chassidic Judaism sees Torah study as part of Avodah.
Chassidic philosophy puts a great emphasis on joyful service of G-d, the concept of Divine Providence, and the commandment of loving one's fellow as he loves himself. A great deal of Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism) is incorporated and expounded upon within Chassidic Judaism.
Whereas by many Orthodox Jews the main focus is intensive Torah study, Chassidic Judaism also puts a tremendous emphasis on Torah study it also demands great effort in the realm of the service of the heart, which is prayer.
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